Wagner: Der Ring; Tristan und Isolde; Parsifal (all arranged by de Vlieger)

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LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Der Ring; Tristan und Isolde; Parsifal (all arranged by de Vlieger)
PERFORMER: Netherlands Radio PO/Edo de Waart
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 44787 2
When a new composition appeared in the last century, it would often do so in many versions, as a paraphrase or duet for piano or as an orchestral potpourri. In 1991 Henk de Vlieger condensed Wagner’s Ring from 15 hours into one through-composed symphonic poem for orchestra which, for those who know their Ring and its distinctive musical labels or leitmotifs, traces the whole saga with seamless links as substitute for the human voice. The titles and packaging here are a matter of taste; there are striking black and white photographs parodying Wagner’s characters and a thought-provoking essay by Martin van Amerongen. Despite exciting playing by the Netherlands Radio PO it’s a breathless experience, the trip from Valhalla to Nibelheim and back reminiscent of that Fifties film of a train journey from London to Brighton in four minutes. De Vlieger then does the same to Parsifal and Tristan, reducing each to about an hour in seven movements. As an alternative to short orchestral excerpts, it will be interesting to see if this catches on: Wagner anoraks will probably spot omissions such as Brangäne or Kurwenal. Of the three, Parsifal is best. Christopher Fifield